Part used: Rhizome, stolons & roots.
Constituents: A range of unique chemical constituents
have been found, but as with all herbal remedies it is a mistake
to try to understand the plant from these chemicals alone. The
healing gift of Valerian is much more than simply the effects of
constituents like valepotriates. The practitioner of herbal medicine
can glean much of value from biochemical research that canaugment
clinical experience but never replace it.
Alkaloids: chatinine, valerine and 2 others similar to skytanthine
Valepotriates: valtrate, didrovaltrate, acevaltrate,
volatile oil: esters: bornyl isovalerianate,
bornylacetate, bornyl formate, eugenyl isovalerate, isoeugenyl isovalerate
alcohols eugenol terpenes valerianol, a sesquiterpene alcohol.
The powerful sedative action of valerian is partially due to valepotriates,
epoxy-iridoid esters, found in the root. A whole series of valepotriates
has been isolated, and their actions have been found to be different,
and in part opposite. They do not have simply sedative properties,
but a predominantly regulatory effect on the autonomic system.
One fraction has a suppressant effect, another a stimulant one,
so that in combination they have an equalizing effect that has
been referred to as amphoteric. Valtrate& didrovaltrate have
been to have potent cytotoxic activity, and the former is active
against Krebs II ascitic tumors.
There is 0.5-1.0% of volatile oil present. The peculiar bouquet
of valerian is actually produced by drying. A number of components
of the volatile oil in the roots, hydrolyse with time to isovaleric
acid. Very little is present in the fresh root, which has a pleasant
aroma. The older the dried herb the stronger the smell of isovaleric
acid, but not necessarily stronger in effect. This volatile oil
has anti-microbial, carminative and relaxing properties.
Alkaloids are also present that have blood pressure lowering
effects. There may be up to 0.1% in the dried root.
Like many other medicinal plants valerian contains a complex of
active principles, making analysis is difficult. Even detailed
and thorough investigation does not reveal a single active constituent
in this well-known medicinal plant, highlighting that the therapeutic
effect depends on the interaction of the plants constituents as
Actions: Nervine, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic, carminative,
Indications: It has a wide range of specific uses, but
its main indications are: anxiety, nervous sleeplessness, and the
bodily symptoms of tension such as muscle cramping or indigestion.
It may be used safely in situations where tension and anxiety are
causing problems. This may manifest in purely psychological and
behavioral ways or also with body symptoms. Valerian will help
in most cases. For some people it can be an effective mild pain
As one of the best gentle and harmless herbal sleeping remedies,
it enhances the natural body process of slipping into sleep and making the stresses of the day recede. For people who do
not need as much sleep as they once did, it also eases lying awake
in bed, ensuring that it becomes a restful and relaxing experience.
This is often as re-vivifying as sleep itself, and indeed all that
is necessary in more cases than not. The true nature of sleep
still remains a mystery. Everybody goes through stages of REM (rapid
eye movement)sleep, a stage where dreaming is associated with
minor involuntary muscle jerks and rapid eye movements, indicating
that active processes are occurring in the brain. It is important
not to suppress the dreams dreamed during this stage. Emotional
experiences are processed by the mind in those dreams, and much arising
from both the unconscious and daily life is balanced and harmonized. Whilst
sleeping pills have a marked impact on REM, Valerian does not
interfere with this process as it is not powerful enough to suppress
these necessary REM phases.